This week 30 years ago: Row breaks out between Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils over who controls Victoria Park

The Gazette 30 years ago

The Gazette 30 years ago - Credit: Archant

Town Hall chiefs in Hackney realised they had no legal responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of Victoria Park, and that they had forked out over half a million pounds without needing to.

Since the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986 they had “assumed” they jointly owned the 280 acre park, which straddles the borders of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. But according to the terms of an agreement drawn up for its transfer of control, Hackney had no statutory duty to pay a single penny.

The costly blunder exposed a deep rift between Labour-controlled Hackney and Liberal-controlled Tower Hamlets. Hackney accused the Lib-Dems, which had a majority on the park’s management board, of steamrollering through decisions like the closure of its open air lido.

“We are prepared to put money into the park because a large number of Hackney people use it,” said Hackney’s leisure services chief, Cllr Tommy Shepherd.

“But we have to protect our rate-payers’ interests, and we don’t believe we are getting best value for money.

“We are being asked to spend a third of a million pounds and have no real say whatsoever in how it is spent, because we have just three representatives on the joint management board, while Tower Hamlets has five.”